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Next week, I have an interview, in English, with a company from the USA and I would like to know if I should use terms when I speak like: "wanna", "gotta", "gonna", "lotta", "kinda", etc?

Should I use these expressions or I should use "want to", "got to", "going to", "a lot of", etc ?

I always think that sounds so robotic, but I don't know.

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should i use this expression or i should use want to got to, going to , a lot of etc ?

It's better if you refrain from using those words you mention, because using it will give a less professional impression than if you use the correct words.

Of course, it's not a life or death situation if you forget and use a such words a few times, but it's better if you refrain from doing so in order to give a better professional impression.

Now, when it comes to writing emails, documents and similar there I suggest you never use slang words or informal writing, as that will not look nice.

Furthermore, it's worth mentioning that using contractions (don't, won't, shouldn't, etc.) is fine, as those are formal tokens from the English lexicon, whereas Slang, etc., terms are not so formal.

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    Better still to listen to the interviewer and speak in a similar fashion to them – DavidB Sep 22 at 11:27
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    @DavidB You should probably post this as a separate answer (not a comment) so it can be voted on separately. – wizzwizz4 Sep 22 at 18:30
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You should use the same language that you would use when speaking to colleagues during your actual work.

Part of what you need to achieve in an interview is to present yourself as someone the interviewers want to work with and see every day. Speaking in a way you consider to be "robotic" is unlikely to leave them with this impression.

Instead, speak in a way that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and natural. You're likely to leave a much better impression when you feel like yourself.

Obviously, this is only advice about how you speak, not what you say - don't swear, insult people, or anything like that.

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    If the position is customer-facing, then I would argue for using the same language you would use when speaking to customers, rather than colleagues. – jcaron Sep 22 at 9:05
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    "speak in a way that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and natural" - How some people naturally speak would probably be considered unprofessional by many, so I wouldn't recommend blindly following this advice. Although when both options are generally acceptable (like for the case in question), this is good advice. – Bernhard Barker Sep 22 at 11:00
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    @Echox For sure, I don't call my tall coworkers "long leggy bois" but I sure do say that to friends. – mascoj Sep 22 at 12:45
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    @BernhardBarker "How some people naturally speak would probably be considered unprofessional by many". Of course, that's why I said they should use the same sort of language they use when speaking to colleagues, rather than friends. If someone is used to speaking to their colleagues unprofessionally then that's a whole different matter. – Player One Sep 22 at 21:22
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    When I have an interview I dress nicer than I normally do, I arrive earlier than that I would on normal work day. Because you wanna make a good first impression. Speaking a bit more polite than usual also helps create this good first impression – SirDuckduck Sep 23 at 14:52
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"wanna" , "gotta", "gonna", "lotta" , "kinda"

This is more complicated than you may realise. I'll give the long explanation and follow it with suggestions about how to proceed.


Explanation

With the exception of "kinda", these aren't slang. They are inaccurate textual attempts to reproduce the sounds made by many native speakers when talking fast and fluently.

There are several things to note about this:

  1. As natives we can blur or just touch lightly on certain consonants. A native listener can hear these fine distinctions but a non-native may miss them.

  2. English speakers tend to use the schwa sound for non-emphasized vowels. This is represented by "a" in your examples, but really they are pronounced as, "ə", that is:

"wanna" actually sounds as "wannə" etc.

  1. Pronouncing the double "t" as two separate sounds can seem awkward to non-natives and stilted to many natives. It may be hard to pronounce "got-to" or "got-tə".

In many areas of the US, "t" is often replaced by "d", so "gotta" becomes "gotdə" or "godda"


Do not despair!

Please note that I'm not suggesting you learn any of this and especially not that you try to reproduce these sounds between now and the interview! Very few adult learners of a language can exactly reproduce the native sounds even if they spend the rest of their lives in the new country. Their accent will remain, and it will be stronger the older they were when they relocated.


What should you do?

We cannot judge from text how you sound. The only way to know is for a native speaker (preferably an educated person who speaks clearly) to hear you.

I see three ways forward.

  1. Pay for a session with a voice coach and ask their opinion.

  2. Ask a native English-speaking friend to listen to you saying the phrases in different ways and give feedback.

  3. Record your voice on your phone or other equipment and post it on Stack Exchange.

In any of the above cases it is better to speak a whole sentence than just one word. Instead of recording "want to" and "wanna" and sending it to us, it is best to choose a sentence, e.g. record both of the following:

"I wanna develop my skills in the area of XYZ"

and

"I want to develop my skills in the area of XYZ"

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  • @theonlygusti Because these words are part of real English, not artificial textbook English. Real English, as observed in use by native speakers. – OmarL Sep 22 at 10:34
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    I don't understand why you singled out "kinda" as different. How is that any less an "inaccurate textual attempts to reproduce the sounds made by many native speakers when talking fast and fluently" than "gotta" or "wanna"? – Chris H Sep 22 at 14:14
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    @theonlygusti, Chris H, presumably because "kind of" (in the sense that gets abbreviated to "kinda", e.g. "it's kind of difficult") is already itself slangy in a way that "want to" and "lots of" are not. – James Martin Sep 22 at 14:48
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    The technical term for this is "elision". ("Gonna" is even used as an example in the Wikipedia article on the subject.) From the article: "Most elisions in English are not mandatory, but they are used in common practice and even sometimes in more formal speech. This applies to nearly all the examples in the above table. However, these types of elisions are rarely shown in modern writing and never shown in formal writing." – Nobody Sep 23 at 11:47
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    This is exactly the answer I would have written. While it's easy to type "I want to do XYZ", when spoken in American English, it usually will come out "I wanna do XYZ" because pronouncing "wanT To" requires a hard stop in the middle of a sentence and comes out very artificial sounding. Even pronouncing it "wanTo do" requires effort on the part of the speaker and sounds artificial. The only time both "t"s and the "d" would be pronounced is if you really. want. to. do. something. with extreme emphasis and spoken slowly. – FreeMan Sep 24 at 17:42
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If you're speaking a language that is not your first language, there is a golden rule about any kind of informal language, whether that's slang, abbreviations, or anything.

If you have to ask whether you should use it, then you shouldn't

In a formal setting like an interview, formal language is not only recommended, it is expected. Some informality is certainly possible, but you need to be very careful exactly how much. This is complex enough that native speakers may often do "practise interviews", whether as children or as adults retraining in a different industry, to become familiar with how to present themselves well in a formal environment.

Even in an informal setting, too much informality can get you into trouble. Not simple abbreviations, of course; but informality with your peers can often involve swearing or other rudeness, and this may not be something you would want to use in other settings. You need to know that some of the language you and an English friend might use in good-humoured banter is not the same language you would both use when meeting their great-grandmother or their teacher!

One other tip for your interview. In many cultures (in particular France, Italy and India) it's normal to speak very fast. If you speak too fast in an interview, you not only sound nervous, but the interviewers may literally be unable to understand you. I have deliberately rejected candidates in the past on the basis of their poor English skills, because I require engineers who can communicate with customers, and being unable to be clearly understood makes it impossible to hire them in spite of any technical ability. Take deep breaths, slow yourself down, and limit your coffee consumption.

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  • well that is all too common i speak english well i have accent from country, should i speak slow down? – simon Sep 23 at 3:07
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    @simon In general, that's a good thing in interviews. It depends on how strong your accent is though. One thing I like to tell people who speak English as a second language is that back in the 1990s, there was a comedy series set in Glasgow (Scotland) with people speaking with a Glasgow accent. The BBC decided to put subtitles on it, because they didn't think English people would be able to understand the accent - for somewhere in Britain with native English speakers! It wasn't really necessary, but it does show how hard unfamiliar accents can be to follow. – Graham Sep 23 at 8:59
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    Fully disagree with the bolded sentence. The answer is not always no. Some people this might be true of, if their default is too far in one direction, but many people will be in the middle legitimately (or even on the other side of it). – Joe Sep 23 at 17:40
  • @Joe And that's fine if you're with your friends and it doesn't much matter. In a formal setting, for me the answer is always no, and that's my professional opinion as someone who has been the interviewer enough times. Even native speakers sometimes go too informal in interviews. If it's not your first language, you're taking a risk which you simply don't need to. – Graham Sep 23 at 18:57
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    @Graham The problem is that what is "formal" shifts over time. Formal English of 1800 is not the same as Formal English of 2000 is not the same as Formal English of 2020. I'm all for formal language - but "if you have to ask" is an untrue statement, and further it discourages asking, which I strongly dislike. – Joe Sep 23 at 18:59
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I've been on both sides of plenty of interviews, and this is something I've never even thought about. I can see how it could be a concern for someone for whom English is a second language, but I think for most interviewers, it's not. The important thing in an interview is to know your stuff and communicate well. Trying to monitor yourself to keep from using contractions seems like an unnecessary burden. Just be yourself.

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Maybe this is something the others answers over looked, but... I think it depends whether we're talking about an interview in a country where English is the main language, or in a country where it is not the main language but the interview is in English because (for example) they want to test your fluency because you will need it while doing your job.

If you use slang in an English interview in a non-English speaking country, then you might come across as fluently speaking. They will perceive you as someone who speaks English on a regular basis (be it with friends, previous colleagues, hobbies, internet, etc. etc.), and this will be seen as a big plus. (of course keep it limited to generally accepted slang words, such as the examples you gave (gonna, wanna, ...). If you're going to walk in talking like a ganster-rapper, don't expect them to listen to you for very long...)

While on the other hand, if you speak perfectly clean English, it might be that you come across as not really being fluent. It might sound like you only know English from school (or separate classes), and they might think that you'll be less fluent in day-to-day conversations when less common topics are being discussed.

Do note the emphasis on "might". It's also entirely possible that this recruiter has a strong preference for perfectly clean English, and thinks that your slang is very unprofessional. It's best to listen to your interviewers' own skills. If he/she speaks very fluent English himself, you might want to drop the slang. If he/she speaks basic English with a strong accent, I think using slang can be perceived by them as fluent English.

I have done this several times in the past, and was very often complimented on my English. Not because my English is that good (I know it has a lot of flaws), but because you can make yourself seem more fluent by "reading" your interviewer before speaking.

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I can tell you this, I've gotten at least once job by showing in the interview that I'm a highly effective communicator, and being able to articulate and enunciate your words carefully is a large part of that.

I wouldn't say there is a "Wrong" or "right" way to do an interview. There's only things that will be more likely to help you, or more likely to hurt you. Effective communication is one of them.

Now, there's no way say all employers look for that, if you are interviewing for a line cook at a Waffle house, you should match the interviewers speaking patterns, including that kind of slang. If you are interviewing to become a Business Analyst, and you will be on many meetings communicating with people, you will want to be an effective communicator in the interview. 90% of the time it will help you rather than hurt you.

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TL;DR: These are all not good interview words, but not because of the contraction (which chasly points out is more likely native speakers softly saying syllables or eliding them); but because the words are not active, strong words. Using active words helps you make your case for being hired.

Breaking down case by case:

For "wanna", on a similar note to chasly's answer, it's likely that 'want to' is nearly never said exactly as such by a native speaker. This isn't "wanna" though, or even with the schwa, necessarily; what I find when I record myself saying "want to" is "wanto" - eliding the second 't'. Other accents may be more similar to chasly's; I'm not sure. I definitely pronounce the 't' once, and most people I am around do the same, but that's upper midwestern US and might be very different in the northeast, south, not to mention UK or Australia. This is the only one of these I'd expect to use in an interview, because "want to" is a reasonably active phrase ("q: How long do you plan to stay at the company? a: I want to stay at least five years").

"Gotta" is clearly informal, as is "got"; it would similarly be pronounced with the elided second t were it to be said, but avoid 'got' entirely in the common usage ("I've got to ...") as it's really better said as "I need to". It's not that slang-y, and is probably effectively "common usage" now rather than slang, but some interviewers might see it as slang, and the word just isn't needed. Use active language here instead.

"Gonna" is informal and passive. "Going to" is again better to avoid, as it's more passive; "I'm going to go to the store" is less effective of a tense than "I will go to the store" (if you need to convey future) or "I am going to the store" (for present tense). If you were to say "going to", though, "going to" is pretty normal to say in full I think.

"Kinda" I'd also avoid, just as I'd avoid "kind of". Again, this is more a matter of being active and direct: "kind of" implies weakness, that you're unsure. (Unless you mean "Chocolate is a kind of candy", which is fine, but definitely not used as "kinda" there.) "q: Do you know SQL? a: Kind of" isn't something you should be saying in an interview; use more definite language.

"Lotta" again is one to avoid; while as with chasly's answer it's not really a true contraction so much as a natural way of saying "lot of" with very little emphasis on "f" and the "o" turning into a schwa, I'd avoid "lot of" where possible, because it's usually taking the place of a more accurate or direct answer - "q: How much experience do you have with SQL? a: I have a lot of experience" is not a good answer, it should be "a: I have ten years' experience".

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  • excellent ,im so sorry for my ignorant i just want to improve my english and speak better like people from usa – simon Sep 23 at 18:05
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    @simon Certainly nothing to be sorry for! Bettering ourselves is something we all aspire to, regardless of origin. – Joe Sep 23 at 18:23
  • thank you @Joe for you advice – simon Sep 23 at 18:24

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